North Carolina Education - Harnett County

Year County Established

County Webpage Herein

County Seat Webpage Herein


Harnett County


Campbell University, a Baptist institution of higher learning, was founded as Buies Creek Academy on January 5, 1887, by James Archibald Campbell, a local Baptist minister and graduate of Wake Forest College. The original enrollment was only twenty-one male students, but by 1898 the academy had three buildings and over sixty pupils. Two years later, on Dec. 20, 1900, a fire consumed every wooden campus building with the exception of a large tabernacle.

A possibly apocryphal story associated with the fire concerns the origin of the current university’s rather unusual mascot, the Fighting Camel. When local entrepreneur Zachary Taylor Kivett found Mr. Campbell moping after the conflagration, he asked “Why are you in bed? I thought Campbells had humps on them.” Kivett pledged on the spot to build a new brick building, which was completed in 1903 and was named for him. It is the oldest building on the present campus.

Playwright Paul Green studied at Buies Creek Academy. In 1926, the school became a junior college and its name changed to Campbell College in honor of its founder. Thirty-five years later the school was promoted to a senior college, and in 1979 received its university status. Three years prior to officially becoming a university, the college opened Campbell School of Law. By the early 2000s, the school’s enrollment consisted of nearly 10,000 students including those at extension campuses.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

On February 27, 1899, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate Buies Creek Academy and Commercial College in the village of Buies Creek in Harnett County. Four (4) corporators were named in the Act.
In the Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the scholastic years of 1899 and 1900, it was reported that there were four (4) private schools in Harnett County:

Private School



No. of Students

Buie's Creek Academy

Buie's Creek

Rev. J.A. Campbell


Dunn Private School


W.H. Ackerman


Hector's Creek School


H.T. Smith


Linden Private School


W.E. Phifer


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